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Shelly Zumsteg delivers Ada Wilson lecture

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Shelly Zumsteg delivers Ada Wilson lecture

Society of Women Engineers (SWE) faculty advisor, far left, joins SWE's Ada Wilson Lecturer, Shelly Zumsteg, second from right, and Zumsteg's twin daughters, Leslie, in red, a senior at the University of Wyoming studying kinesiology, and Rachael, in green, a biological engineering senior at MU and president of Mizzou Engineering's SWE chapter.

As an industrial engineering senior in 1980, Shelly Zumsteg planned the College of Engineering’s Green Tea. Little did she know that 30 years later, she would be the event’s guest speaker. Nor had Zumsteg an inkling that her appearance as the Society of Women Engineer’s Ada Wilson guest lecturer at the 2010 Green Tea would be at the invitation of one of her own twin daughters, a biological engineering senior at MU, Rachael Fischer.

Zumsteg’s life work has been as a project engineer in telecommunications. After graduating, she took a job with Western Electric, or “Ma Bell,” she called it. “I had the same phone number for 20 years, but Bell Telephone became AT&T in 1984 and Lucent Technologies in 1996. In 2000, I began working for a spin-off company, Avaya.”

Zumsteg was laid off in 2002, but has returned twice as a contractor working in her area of expertise, new product introduction, “from design on paper to the product that goes out the door.”

“You need to know yourself,” she advised the Green Tea audience of mostly young women. With impending careers, potential marriages and other post-college changes in their lives, she continued, they were poised on the brink of making some life altering, possibly long-term decisions. “How will you select?” she asked.

“What motivates you? What challenges your mind?” Zumsteg asked, ticking off what should be considered when making these choices, including such things as core values, family, spirituality, employment goals, hobbies and leisure time.

Both of Zumsteg’s parents were schoolteachers. Her enjoyment of the family’s annual two-week vacations made recreational travel a priority in her life. (She is two states shy of completing her “bucket list” goal to visit all 50 states.) Zumsteg and her husband specifically took jobs in Colorado where they could play on the weekends even if they couldn’t get away for longer trips.

“Life is a journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions,” she said. “And make time to enjoy the scenery.

“It’s not work versus life, but finding a balance between the two that’s important,” said Zumsteg.

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